Katya Knyazeva (avezink) wrote,
Katya Knyazeva

Depressive poetry by a Russian emigrant

Every day I go to work on the Bund
What is this Bund?
It's what they call the embankment here...

Buildings loom over the dirty river,
Massive, granite edifices,
Like prisons with their iron grills,
Vaults for bitter, omnipotent money.
This money determines people’s fate
And their daily existence,
Their bread, their light, their souls and their lives,
Their frequent despair,
Their obsequious smiles,
The tremble of their cold wet hands...

There was a time I thought it possible
To keep going to the Bund but preserve my soul,
To keep going to the Bund but work on poetry at night
And create my own songs,
About complex, ornate passions,
And obscure unconscious
Desires and impulses...

I must admit I was naïve.
Admitting it makes my soul hurt,
Or, not the soul, but those rags
That quiver where my soul used to be.
There is now a wingless,
Featherless, pathetic blob,
A mere shadow of the winged
And proud creature my soul once was.

In the morning, I get up and wash my face.
Icy water chills my hands.
I drink my tepid tea
To warm up on the inside.
I get on a purple-colored bus
And smoke a pungent cigarette
Sorting through my foggy thoughts.

Reality is brazen and harsh.
At times it smells of blood,
And death lurks
In every narrow alley of the world.
So what! We'll keep on living.
The suit still has some wear left in it,
And I'm hungry only every other day,
And not ill too often yet.

I want to live! And in order to live
I am ready to look death straight in the eye
And yell at her grinning face:
“Damn you! I despise you!
The half-dead man is spitting at you.”

Nikolay Shchegolev / Николай Щеголев
from his poetry collection "Victorious Despair" / "Победное отчаяние"

Shanghai, 1943
Tags: 1940s, bund, poetry, russians, shanghai

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